Computer Newbie Stories

You had cards?


I’m amazed no one did this yet.

I also used cards for my first programming course in 1976 (second-year students got to use terminals), but we got to run them through the reader ourselves, as soon as we waited through the lineup. The tech wasn’t too pleased when I did mine and then switched the reader off so I could pick out my deck. I thought ‘STOP’ was the same as ‘Pause’.

I remember having to get a TA to fix my JCL cards so my final project, Conway’s Life, would get all the way through the first generation before bailing when it ran out of time.

I helped my next door neighbor kids build a computer a few years back so they could get on the Internet. The oldest kid did not want any help from me because 14 year olds know more than the old guys. He did make a comment one day that he couldn’t see everything he was typing when writing an email. I had him show me what he was doing.

My comment: “You know you don’t put the enitre email message in the subject line”

Can I put up stories from other people? Please? C’mon, I worked tech support, I’ve got a lot!

Thanks. :slight_smile:

  1. I had a coworker who swore up and down and on his mother’s grave that he actually took a “the cupholder on my computer is broken” call.

  2. This nice gentleman called up saying he wanted to connect his new laptop to the internet, but it had a bunch of different jacks, instead of just the one modem jack on his PC. He wanted to know which one he should use for the phone cord. Well, I figured out that it had a built-in ethernet card (pretty rare on laptops at the time), and I hadn’t dealt much with them, so I asked what to my mind was an obvious question:

“Does the phone cord fit in all of them?”

Nope, it only fit into one.

“Use that one then. Thank you for calling tech support.”

  1. This one needs a little context. The call center I worked at had semi-regular evaluations, and part of that involved having your supervisor listen in on your call. He stopped by, plugged his headset in, and signaled me to take the next call in the queue. I picked up.

“Thank you for calling {ISP} tech support, this is sciguy, how can I help you?”

“How do I find sex movies on the internet?”

What made it really rough was that one of the evaluation items my boss had to check off was “support agent restated the question back to the caller”. I muddled through somehow.

  1. Finally, I had one extremely * irate gentleman call up, in a horrible mood because his account had been deactivated (lack of payment), reactivated, having problems connecting, password changed a few times, and he still can’t get on the G* D*** internet. He wanted me to fix it now, get his account working, get rid of the F***ing password not accepted error or he’d have my job. {note: at that point in my tech support career I’d have gladly given it to him}. Well, I had to go into a different, rarely-used system to check his account information, and since he had a second phone line I asked him if he could try it while I was bringing that up. Yep, password rejected.

“Ok, well your account information is still coming up, could you check one thing for me: is you caps lock light on”



A very meek voice came over the phone: “If I have any more problems I’ll call back”.

  1. My girlfriend at the time was taking a programming class, and the compilation was done on a UNIX system. She had all her code written, and was having some problems debugging. Well, she thought it’d be a good idea to get rid of the compiled executable, and with the setup she had the filename displayed as “ClassProgram*” when she did “ls” (the asterisk showed it was an executable file). So she dutifully typed in “rm ClassProgram*”.

Did I mention all her source code files started with “ClassProgram”?
Stories about me? Well, I’m a perfect computer user, never had anything like that happen to me. Nope. No really! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!!

Well, ok.

I was re-building my computer, putting in a brand new hard drive after the previous one released its magic smoke. I plugged in the final cable (for the floppy drive, since I needed the room). I inserted my boot floppy, ready to format and install an OS on the new drive.

I didn’t notice that the floppy power light came on, and stayed on without hearing any drive access. The PC was unable to boot, gave a “no system disk” error. It turned out I had put the floppy cable in backwards, the cable was keyed but the drive was not. After a few unsuccessful tries I figured that out, flipped it around, and tried again.

Only to find out that the floppy (which turned out to be the only bootable floppy in my apartment) had been wiped out. Reversing the cable apparently gives power to the write head, which affects disks in the drive badly.

When my soon-to-be ex-husband first got us online around '97 or so, I just, for the life of me, couldn’t see what the big damn deal was over the so-called internet.


Because I could never find its “start” page. :rolleyes:

::: SIGH :::

At my college, we used punched cards as late as 1982. You had to stand in line to wait for a keypunch machine. If you were lucky, you got one of the machines that would allow you to type out the entire line and correct any errors before the card was punched. They usually had an “express” keypunch machine if you had 10 or fewer cards to punch (to correct typos for example). It was good to learn where the “secret” punch machines were: second floor of the Chemistry building, basement of the library… You still had to carry them over to the appropriate building and put them in the appropriate window, then wait at least 1 hour to get the printout.

Where have all the keypunch machines gone? All the VT100 terminals? All the giant switching devices?

Stupid newbie mistakes: I’ve done a couple of the ones mentioned…backed up a 250MB hard drive onto floppies without first clearing the web cache. That was dumb. I’ve enver done DEL . though. Ow. That just hurts. Where would civilization be without Norton?

Now that guy’s clueless. It’s getting better now (or worse, depending on your point of view :wink: ), but you used to be able to type just about anything into a search engine and get porn, porn and more porn…





When we moved a few years ago, I called my mom to give her our new address and phone number. She asked me what my new e-mail address was.

Not that I haven’t done anything stupid…probably the worst was somehow deleting a database. This led to the discovery that the network administrators had quit making backups several months ago b/c a drive broke and they hadn’t gotten around to fixing it. The database was no major deal and I was able to recreate it from hardcopy files.

But I have to post about a coworker who I was helping with some computer question. I said “look on your desktop.” And, well, she did.